Police carry out 15-hour search of Malaga CF offices under judge's orders

Several police officers as they left La Rosaleda stadium close to midnight on Wednesday.
Several police officers as they left La Rosaleda stadium close to midnight on Wednesday. / Ñito Salas
  • Wednesday's search of La Rosaleda relates to a case launched by the Association of Minority Shareholders against club president Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani

Officers from the National Police's Financial Crimes Unit searched the offices of Malaga's La Rosaleda stadium on Wednesday in connection with a court case against the club's owner, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani.

In the ongoing criminal case, the Association of Minority Shareholders are attempting to have Al-Thani removed from control of the club and replaced with a judicial administration. They accuse Al-Thani of several crimes, including improper management and misappropriation of funds.

More evidence required

The presiding judge initially rejected the Minority Shareholders' requests, insisting that there was not yet enough evidence to indicate any crimes having been committed.

However, on Tuesday, she issued a summons to owner Al-Thani and his children Nasser, Rakan and Nayef - the three also sit on the club's board - to appear in court on Tuesday 18 February and respond to the allegations against them. The family are currently in Qatar.

This was followed the next day by the search of La Rosaleda. The judge had previously stated that she needed more evidence to be presented, to which the Minority Shareholders responded that they had offered up all the documentation at their disposal, and that it was the club's intransigence that was the problem. The court had already requested a good deal of information from the club, including the list of shareholders, confirmation of who made up the board and what its members' precise duties were, and the original contract of the 4.4 million euro loan made by the club to Al-Thani and his children.

Computers checked

Police arrived early in the morning and stayed around 15 hours, leaving near midnight. Sources at the regional High Court confirmed that the officers were there in order to collect "financial documentation", downloading data from computers. Since there are strict rules regarding this 'data dumping' and what can serve as evidence in a trial, it was this process which made the police presence last so long.

The club sought to play down the significance of the incident, and stressed that it has always sought to assist the authorities: "The club has always worked in good faith with the authorities, seeking to comply with all their requests. These events have not impeded the normal functioning of the club. We want to thank the officers who were at the stadium today for their professional attitude and friendliness."

Adding to Malaga's woes, La Liga chief Javier Tebas, speaking on Wednesday, warned the club that it will have serious financial problems by the beginning of March "if there are no sales or an investment". If the club did not deal with its financial imbalances, he warned that it would have "serious problems" with La Liga.

Tebas also seemed to offer support to the Minority Shareholders: "You're never the only shareholder in football, and that means you can't do whatever you want. Even if you own 95 per cent of the club, others will own the five per cent, and they have rights you have to respect."